Families of 17 Parkland victims mark 2nd anniversary with foundations, funds

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Friday marks the painful anniversary of the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

For some parents, their healing process has come in the form of helping others.

“Sometimes I have a dream about him,” said Gina Hoyer, Luke Hoyer’s mother. “You wake up, and it’s like, ugh, it’s just so hard to believe still.”

Two years ago, a community lost 17 students and teachers.

Luke Hoyer was 15.

“He always used to hang over that staircase and talk to me,” said Gina. “I’d just look up there — probably just up there asking me when it’s time to eat.”

“I don’t know that things feel a whole lot different to me than they did two years ago,” said Fred Guttenberg, Jamie’s father.

Guttenberg’s daughter, Jaime, was 14.

“I still wake up in the morning, and I look at pictures,” said Guttenberg. “Some make me smile because of how happy she looked, and sometimes, for the same reason, they make me cry.”

Over the past two years, there have been marches, memorials, safety commission meetings and lobbying of lawmakers.

While many of the Parkland families and students have addressed gun control issues, they are also taking on causes they never would have thought about before February 14, 2018.

“We set up a really cool and unique scholarship for kids of all abilities,” said Guttenberg. “Because my daughter spent her time volunteering for kids with special needs. Kids will go to college because of Jamie, and that makes my heart big.”

Three comedians, Jim Breuer, Jessica Kirson and Alonzo Bodden will appear on a comedy show at Parker Playhouse to raise money for Orange Ribbons for Jamie, Feb. 19.

Orange Ribbons for Jamie not only funds scholarships but also causes that were close to Jamie’s heart.

“Anything that helps us to honor my daughter’s memory and make sure that for as long as I’m alive people know her name. We’re gonna keep on doing it,” said Guttenberg.

Luke’s parents traveled to Washington D.C. to launch a website, schoolsafety.gov, to help educators come up with safety ideas that would fit in their respective districts.

“It gives us a way of helping others not have to go through what we’ve been through,” said Gina.

“You have to give students and teachers a chance at survival if a shooter steps on the campus,” said Tom Hoyer, Luke’s father. “You have to improve the safety of your school. There’s a forum for teachers, administrators to talk with each other.”

Because Luke loved basketball, Tom and Gina have set up a fund to pay for sports equipment and fees for children in foster care.

“Whether it be cheerleading, basketball, football, karate,” said Gina, “because when you play a sport, it gives you a sense of camaraderie, you feel a part of something.”

Parents won’t be able to see Luke tryout for football or see Jamie dance again. They will not see any of the Parkland 17 grow and change, but this is how they honor their loved ones.

“When something like this happens to you, I felt a little lost,” said Tom. “Your whole world is just rocked to the core, so I felt a little lost. This kind of stuff is a sense of purpose.”

On Friday morning, district officials said only 500 students are expected to show up to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on the heart-wrenching anniversary.

“There’s no way to explain it,” said one student. “It’s hard to explain the feeling that you get when you walk into school.”

“I feel better rather, staying here than being at home,” said another student.

To donate to the Luke Hoyer Athletic Fund, click here.

Remember, you can also support Orange Ribbons for Jamie comedy night.

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